OKTIBBEH COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- It’s been more than 20 years since the parents of Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler laid their children to rest after their brutal murders in 1992. An Oktibbeha County man was charged and convicted and Tuesday he will be put to death for the crime. Willie Jerome Manning is expected to die by by lethal injection.
Former Oktibbeha County Sheriff Dolph Bryan says, “I don’t like to think about having to kill someone because it’s a horrible thing. But Willie Jerome Manning worked hard for his death sentence. He’s killed at least four people. I’m not sure that’s all he killed.”
Willie Jerome Manning was charged, tried, and convicted for the deaths of Mississippi State students Jon Steckler and his girlfriend Tiffany Miller in 1992. Their bodies were found in rural Oktibbeha County. Miller died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head. Steckler was left fighting for his life. He too had been shot in the head and run over by a car twice.
Former Oktibbeha County Chief Deputy George Corrithers says, “At the time we had four murders. We had Tiffany and Jon and then we had elderly ladies in Brooksville Gardens. So the community was pretty much upset. Not only had the county had two murders, but the city had had two murders.”
George Corrithers, who was the chief deputy and lead investigator on the case, says he remembers it all to well. It’s one of the few cases he and former sheriff Dolph Bryan haven’t been able to see through to the end. Both men say they worked long hours following leads and examining evidence. It was a tireless effort to get justice for the families.
According to Bryan, “If you’re an office holder and you have a crime like this, the pressure comes from within. You feel it’s your responsibility to solve this crime.”
One piece of evidence in question has been a piece of hair that investigators say belongs to a black male. But no DNA testing was ever done. But it’s a accumulation of several other pieces of evidence that lead all involved to believe they have their man.
According to Bryan, “I have a girlfriend that he dated that told me he saw him shoot a gun into a tree at his mama’s house. We got a search warrant and we went and took the bullets out of that tree and they were a 100 percent match.”
Corrithers says, “No doubt in my mind he was guilty of all four murders. This case should have come to an end years ago.”
And for the families the execution of Willie Jerome Mannings although will not bring their children back but in some way allow them to move on and allow them some closure.